What to talk about today? Riots, the economy, or exam results?

What a day today, the rain in Swindon hasn’t stopped for a minute and it’s been a momentous day for many young people awaiting A level results.

Five minutes ago that was me.

Turning up at my school as early as possible.

But I wasn’t one of those who stood there crying with joy that I’d got As or even Bs. I was one of the many who hadn’t quite flunked the exams – but as near as dammit. I got a C, D and an E.

In spite of working hard and achieving As or Bs in all of my course work, I’d flipped out in the actual exams and scored really badly.

In my favourite subject, English Literature, I got a D. I completely failed one paper.

Just one four-hour period and that was my legacy to English – that’s how it felt. My only saving grace was that I’d taken an extra English exam – which doesn’t exist now – called an S level and in that I’d got a distinction.

In a few seconds my dreams of going to Hull University were snuffed out. I had to get on the phone and try to find an alternative through UCAS. I didn’t even have good telephone skills at that time.

However I never even considered not going into higher education – it was just a question of how to achieve that with poor results.

Somehow the then lowly Bath College of Higher Education, now Bath Spa University, was doing a fairly new course and they offered me an interview. It was then known as a teacher training college and I experienced a lot of ‘sniffy’ comments when I mentioned it. ‘It just wasn’t the same as university, you know”.

The interview went well, with a wonderful lady who became a mentor for me, Dr Mara Kalnins. I immediately felt at home, was offered a place and thus began three very happy years.

I learned that it’s okay to fail – it doesn’t mean you are rubbish and it doesn’t mean there aren’t other opportunities. It means you have to open your mind.

Some weeks later, results were published from my school in the local paper. The school, unsurprisingly boasted about those who’d got into Oxbridge and other well-respected institutions. The last sentence named me and said I was going to ‘Bath’.


That was it.

I immediately felt that that ambiguity might suggest that I was going to the University of Bath, which is highly regarded rather than the college of higher education across the city.


I don’t know what was more pathetic – me for caring or the school for doing that. It felt like a slap across the face.

I’ve got no regrets about the path my life took – I met wonderful people, did a fabulous course and have watched as Bath College of HE has grown in stature.

It’s fabulous to succeed, to work hard and to get where you want to be – but it’s even more fabulous to fail, and fail again but to get up, get on and still succeed in the end. I’m sure success is all the sweeter if you’ve had to experience failure along the way.


Take a deep breath and find another way!

We all know how excruciatingly annoying is that person who’s always seemed to succeed at everything – watch the Apprentice to find out about those types.


So to all the A and AS level students out there – well done for your hard work. If you got the grades you wanted, brilliant.


If you didn’t, look for the other path and don’t lower your expectations just because you may have to take a less obvious route.

By the way, on a completely different note – anyone who wants to see my latest documentary for ITV Wales on OCD you can now – http://www.youtube.com/user/mumsinmedia

About Fiona

Fiona Scott is an award winning TV producer and Journalist. It has been said what she doesn't know about PR isn't worth knowing. You can read more about Fiona on her page http://www.mumsinmedia.co.uk/fiona-scott/ . Subscribe to the Mums in Media newsletter to stay in touch.